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September 9, 2005

After which, he pinched their noses, tweaked their cheeks, and gave them a big ol’ noogie
Posted by Patrick at 05:24 PM * 44 comments

From the Houston Chronicle’s DomeBlog:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it’s like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, “Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?”

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

(Via Nig—er, ortho_bob.)

Comments on After which, he pinched their noses, tweaked their cheeks, and gave them a big ol' noogie:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:43 PM:

Maybe DeLay is seeking reassurance.

You know, since it is concievable that he might soon be sleeping on a cot in an unsafe place in the company of thousands of strangers with no immediate prospect of returning home.

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:48 PM:

DeLay did lose his house, didn't he?

Anyway, I wonder: Had any of those three lads ever been to camp?

#3 ::: janet ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:50 PM:

Over where this was originally posted, there have been some comments that boil down to "aw, don't overreact, that's just the way that adults talk to kids" -- which is probably true, and one of the reasons I'm glad I'm not a kid any more.

#4 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:54 PM:

Smart kids know that when the man with the suit and the retinue asks you a question, you nod and smile politely...

#5 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:56 PM:

Janet: Completely agree. I was thinking, "Okay, that's something I can imagine someone saying to a kid to try to cheer them up."

And then I realized, "Well, not really. That's not something I can imagine saying myself to a kid to try to cheer him up. It's the kind of thing that my overbearing and loud uncle would say to me in a jolly voice, at which point, having grown up in the family, I would know that I had to duck my head and mumble some kind of agreement."

I'd have some kind of sympathy for DeLay for being quoted out of context, but a) it's still an asshole thing to say and b) at this point in his career, he should be smarter than to say this stuff while cameras are rolling. Quite cynically, if he's that stupid, public-relations-wise, he deserves whatever he gets.

#7 ::: T Young ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 06:28 PM:

You misunderstand. He was thinking forward. When he spoke of "camp" he meant, like, Manzanar.

#8 ::: Nancy Wallace ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 06:50 PM:

Aww, those little pickaninnies are just so cute!

#9 ::: Lara U. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:03 PM:

I tend to agree with Janet's thoughts on this, but still... in context it's fairly absurd. Between this and the Barbara Bush thing, I think the Onion needs to change their headline from "God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again" to "Reality Outdoes 'The Onion' Yet Again".

#10 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:13 PM:

Am. completely. boggled. Am getting to the point where no soundbite from a US politician will surprise me. Have lost ability to tell reportage from satire.

#11 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:36 PM:

Nancy, I understand exactly what you mean. I am not trying to pick a fight or make you feel bad. However, I want to say that humorous/sarcastic comments like that are beginning to make me feel extremely uncomfortable. I've been seeing a fair bit of it, and every time, my hair stands on end. I think it's because I can hear people I know say those things, and mean them. I can imagine people reading this blog and utterly failing to realize that it is intended as sarcasm.

I'm scared, guys. Really, really scared. We're losing control of the story all ready. The Bushies are rewriting our personal narratives, erasing FEMA's responsibility for thousands and thousands of deaths, praising the Coast Guard as if it were under their control, and thereby shining in borrowed (stolen) glory. But most of all, they're rewriting it as a race war, a slave rebellion. All the code words to emphasize racial fears are being used, while "reasonable" people are desperately trying to stay away from the "race issue" because the rescue is so much more important...

Saving lives is the most important thing, but are you actually in New Orleans? Are you doing relief work, here or elsewhere? Or are you writing in blogs and in other places on the Web. What we write won't save a single soul in New Orleans. What we write is might affect our future, but for that to happen, we need to keep the story alive, and one of the most important pieces of the story is racism.

#12 ::: LizT ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:41 PM:

My 10 year old is very smart, and very dry. Lucky for me, I find it amusing. My mother does not.

Nonetheless, when I just told her about this, she said, dryly, "They should have invited him to stay. He's rich, right?"

#13 ::: WIlburt ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:08 PM:

Didn't Delay also ask one of the girls getting raped in the stadium if they liked spin the bottle?

#14 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:10 PM:

Delay did not lose his house. Trent Lott lost ONE of his.

As far as keeping the story of racism alive, there is no better way than by reading first hand accounts of those who were there. I invite you to read:

I am completely undone by his account.

#15 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:12 PM:

attorney's account

Let's try to make that accessible, shall we?

#16 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:14 PM:

attorney's account

once more w/ fingers crossed and quotation marks in place

#17 ::: Nancy Wallace ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:28 PM:

Lydia--I understand exactly what you're saying. The reason I posted that was because I've been reading stuff from well-meaning liberals all day, insisting that race has nothing to do with this whole thing. I'm sure DeLay thought he was being kind, but in context, it came across to me as the condescending attitude rich whites in the South have had towards black children for years. Class was certainly a factor in the way that this disaster was handled, but the intersection of class and race was even more of a factor, and ignoring it won't make it any less true.

#18 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:41 PM:

It's only the way you talk to kids if you're not in the habit of talking to them, and not terribly comfortable around them, and not very good at remembering that them and their parents are both as human as you.

#19 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:48 PM:

It's the way you talk to children who haven't been flushed out of their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. If you talk like that to children who have been flushed out of their house and their lives with nothing but the clothes on their backs, possibly having had to leave their doggie or even their granny behind, they're gonna think you're a moron, and they'd be right.

#20 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:52 PM:

WIlburt - ouch.

janet - wholly agree. I tend to hate the way adults talk to children.

in general - if i were a kid being asked if "this" was kind of fun in that context, i would have had a hard time thinking he meant the shelter. when i was between the ages of 8-12, i tended to think strange adults meant something entirely different than what they actually said when they spoke to me, because i didn't want to believe they were stupid, or duplicitous.

one way or another, that was a messed-up thing to say.

#21 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:40 PM:

I lived, for years of my childhood, in a place that was approximately like "camp" - no indoor toilet, next to no running water, and, for a while, no floor. "Kind of fun" is not how I would describe living that way - and I had lots of food and a roof over my head and a warm place to sleep. (My urge to ever go "camping" is as close to zero as makes no difference.)

Camp is only fun if you get to go, y'know, home from it.

#22 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:46 PM:

Have lost ability to tell reportage from satire.

Yeah, me too.

The Padilla verdict from the Appeals Court (I forget which circuit, except I know it's not the Ninth) is terrifying. It goes now to the Supremes. If it's upheld, and I expect that it will be, it means anyone in this country can be disappeared at the behest of the Prez and his cohorts (like Tom DeLay). The Founding Fathers are whirling in their graves. This is intensely scary.

#23 ::: Taco ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:53 PM:

Canada - Home of the Brave, Land of the Free :)

If the the SC upholds it it's time to move.

#24 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:58 PM:

I'm not leaving, sorry. NOT LEAVING. (Expletive-laden rant here.)

#25 ::: Manon ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:19 PM:

*facepalm* You like foot so much, Tom, you should try Barbara's recipe.

#26 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:41 PM:

On the bright side, a recording of DeLay's quote, with the right visual, would make one hell of an attack ad.

#27 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 01:00 AM:

Being from Arizona, I jumped to the conclusion that Nancy's "pickaninny" remark was to draw a comparison between George Bush and Evan Mecham.

Evan Mecham was George Bush on a state level. He was... how do I put this politely?... nuts. He'd say, flat out, that God spoke directly to him. Complained about his political enemies spying on him with laser beams. And, yes, called a young black girl "a cute little pickaninny" in front of reporters.

He got elected governor because of 1) an unexpected win in the Republican primary; the "real" candidate, Burton Barr, was such an old GOP warhorse that he felt he could coast to a win in the primary without much of a campaign -- oops. And 2) the wealthy loser of the Demcratic primary, Bill Schulz, running a media-heavy spite campaign that sucked up 25% of the votes, mostly from people who would have voted Democratic.

Mecham was finally impeached and removed from office after becoming so bizarre and embarassing that even members of his own party turned against him. And the "pickaninny" remark was one of the contributing factors.

#28 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 04:12 AM:

The upside, if such there be to the 4th Circuit's decision is they didn't say the president has an inherent ability to do this, but only one conferred on him by an act of congress.

Personally, I think the Court erred. I think this is a case of guilty until proven innocent, and no test of that innocence is required.

If he committed a crime, try him and convict him. If he's guilty he won't be free to rejoin the bad guys. If he isn't guilty, then he won't be running off to join the bad guys.

But what do I know, I just read the constitution.


#29 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:11 AM:

Did anyone out there save the actual NOAA hurricane forcast for Saturday/Sunday two weeks ago??

If anyone did, could you please E-mail it to me ASAP or point me to a URL?

I went back through our discussion two weeks ago, and found a dynamic URL (
that just took me to the current weather conditions for the Gulf Coast.

Why is this an issue?

My "senator" (and I use that word very losely) Rick Santorum is now on a tear about NOAA.
In short, he's trying to claim that NOAA did not effectively warn people about the storm. As usual, he's wrong, but I need the actual forecast to back up a letter I want to write about this (and also update my Web site).


#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:26 AM:

NOAA has them available:

By day and time, starting about 23 August.

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Atrios has a large chunk of the text of that National Weather Service alert up on his front page (

The background to Santorum's jawdropping suggestion that the NWS's warnings were "insufficient" is that Santorum has long been campaigning for a group that hopes to, in essence, privatize many of the NWS's core functions. This particular cause is so flaky that Santorum hasn't been able to attract even a single Republican co-sponsor, but he soldiers on.

#33 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:55 AM:

Thanks VERY much for the URLs - I was getting imprecise info from Google, and was looking in the wrong place at the NOAA site.

I'm painfully aware of Santorum's attempts to privitize NOAA's data. It's such a genuinely stupid idea, even for Rick!

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 11:05 AM:

And this one, via Out of Ambit:

This is the fiorst paragraph:
Urgent Weather Message from NWS New Orleans

#35 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 03:45 PM:

(This probably belongs elsewhere, but my browser is doing its AOL Thing again.)

Deterioration of Infrastructure.

[The following was posted to a closed List and is forwarded with permission (& some editing), though the writer prefers to remain anonymous. It is hearsay, obviously, but "jb" has been known by many of the other members for upwards of thirty years, and has a firm reputation for being scrupulously (even sometimes obnoxiously) honest and a stickler for accuracy in citations and historical details. ...dsf]

4 Sept. '05:

My brother, a doctor and [officer] in the Air Force, is stationed at Kessler ABF in Biloxi. During the storm [his family] were evacuated to on-base shelters, where they were forced to remain until Thursday because wreckage made it unsafe to leave. My brother was working non-stop at the hospital.

The AF ordered the dependents into the shelters, but neglected to provide food and water. [The people] in the shelter did not eat for four days. [...] My brother is still at Kessler.

By the way, Kessler was Bush's first stop for a photo op.

Off we go into the wild blue yonder, leaving the lunches at home.


My brother phoned my sister today.

Power at the base hospital went out early in the storm. The back-up generators are in the basement along with the pharmacy and medical records and all are under water.

He's been doing surgeries by flashlight, including a C Section during the storm. The hospital is out of supplies and has no water. Although they could not evacuate patients or bring in supplies, the AF did manage to chopper in Rumsfield for a photo op.

Mold is growing everywhere in the hospital.

Every effort is being made to make the general officers look good.



#36 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Note, by the way, that Santorum's complaint wasn't about NOAA/NWS's prediction of Katrina's New Orleans strike, but earlier, when it stuck Florida.

Santorum's weather-privatization bill is INSANE. One of the few federal agencies that actually DID A GOOD JOB during the current disaster, and he wants to downsize and privatize it like they downsized and privatized FEMA.


Don't miss the Graphics Archive linked at the top of the Hurricane KATRINA Advisory Archive above:

It's a very nifty Javascript-animated display of maps of forecast probability cones, strike probabilities, and so on.

You can see precisely when and where Florida was warned.

#37 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 07:31 PM:

It's not clear who is the more noxious sack of shit, DeLay or Santorum. Both of them make stepping in what a dog left behind seem attractive. DeLay's been let off by investigations into illegal finances almost as much at Whitey Bulger, while Santorum makes the KKK look multicultural-friendly. Those are but two of their ugliness points, there are many many many more.

As for Keesler, back in summer of 1975 it was an unpleasant hot humid nasty stinking of mildew place, with the women's latrine in the converted airplane hangar the class I was there for so dark that my color vision didn't work in there (leaving out the TMI details). The area was still recovering from Camille, the beaches were -still- officially offlimits for going swimming fomr, due to water pollution, the aftermath of Camille. That area gets -hit- by hurricanes. Keesler remains one of the stupidest places in the USA to have a military base.

Base closings? Shut down Keesler.

#38 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 09:44 PM:

I've been trying to find an appropriate place to brag on my boy, who's going down as soon as the Red Cross sends him, and I can't find one, so here it is in an inappropriate place. It looks like Tuesday or Wednesday. We spent a bunch of the day today buying him supplies: a new backpack, a pocket knife, and food, water, and first aid stuff. They told him to take food and water for about two days and clothes for ten days to three weeks. He's taking food and water for more like four days (he may not need it at all, he doesn't know where he's going or what he'll be doing, but if he doesn't need it, someone might). They didn't assign him to a specific job, but he's willing to do anything, and he's an EMT and a pre-med with experience digging people out of a much milder flood.

And my daughter's boyfriend's father is a firefighter with Hazmat training, and he may be going down too. It seems to me like the time to send California Hazmat crews down there was a week ago, but better late than never.

Our county responds pretty heavy to natural disasters, partly because when we had our own, which looks pretty small in retrospect, we had help pouring in from all over and we never forget.

Oh, and Mike Rotkin, our many-times mayor and Community Studies professor at the University, has worked out a deal for students to go help through the Red Cross and get college credit for it (providing they write a paper about it afterwards).

But it's taken more than a week to get my son lined up to go down -- we need faster ways of scooping up the volunteers and deploying them.

#39 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 02:39 AM:

Laurie, here's a blog posting from Brian Williams with some backstory about that NOAA forecast.

Williams has been great in all this, much to my surprise. He made a very pointed comment during NBC's benefit last week that, yeah, you've heard all those awful rumors, but the people in the Superdome were good, decent, law-abiding American citizens, and anybody who says otherwise is a dick. But he was more diplomatic.

#40 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 01:32 PM:

re comment by hrc:
"Delay did not lose his house. Trent Lott lost ONE of his."

And Lott was mighty pissed at Bush's comment about his porch. He's got to live in ?Gulfport? (IIRC) after this. He's been sounding off about Brown and FEMA as as much as any MoveOn--Moore "Bush-basher".

#41 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 04:27 PM:


I read somewhere that the people in the floodwaters are told they should rinse their mouths out with mouthwash (I assume antiseptic) four times a day, and brush their teeth frequently too, so your son might want to bring the appropriate oral hygiene equipment.

#42 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:17 AM:

Trent Lott opened his mouth at the wrong time with the wrong comment and foot in mouth disease dislodged him from the Senate Majority Leadership.... That put him out of the nice cushy powerful position down much lower on the pecking order, I supposed people didn't have to be as accommodating to him anymore.

I don't have much sympathy, I have years of detestation for him and his causes and attitudes.

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#44 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2020, 12:02 AM:

Nice obvious spam, too.

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